I've had two unhealthy obsessions in my life.
That's not true. I've had a lot more than that. And these two weren't particularly unhealthy. Let me try again. I had two objects of obsession as a young person. We're going to exclude some of my teenage years here and focus more on under 16. I blame my father for the first of these obsessions and The Voyage of the Mimi for the other.
The first is horses. A deep, passionate, love for horses that started in the depths of my DNA. I was certainly not the first girl to love ponies. But I was fortunate enough to have a father willing and (somewhat) able to indulge me. I say somewhat because it's not like we had money pouring out of our ears and ponies are an expensive hobby. I also say somewhat because Dad had a pretty serious allergy to horses. That did not stop him from taking me to lessons twice a week beginning when I was nine. That's not to mention the extra trips to the barn after he gave me my first pony. And my second. If you're thinking spoiled brat, you're not far off. We'll say somewhat spoiled and a brat in private.
I was aware that my family made sacrifices for my hobby and was grateful. I spurred me to perform well. My father's face when I received top marks was very motivating to Young Me. And, for my age, I did alright. I wasn't too shabby at the art and brought home my share of earned ribbons. I also knew to be respectful in public. That's not to say I didn't have my share of childhood tantrums, but these were reserved for home. Again, leaving out the teenage years. Young Me didn't care if I was riding, mucking, or grooming. I just wanted to be at the barn. And to make Dad proud.
The second was whales, specifically humpback whales. My fourth grade G&T class focused on The Voyage of the Mimi the whole year. I still have the book that accompanied the series. It's been read cover-to-cover a million times and looks it. I have a whole sketchpad full of tail flukes and breaching bodies with little poems scribbled in and about the drawings. Note - I am not a talented artist or poet. My desire to be a marine biologist replaced aspirations in paleontology (don't ask where that came from). I was, of course, going to be an equestrian star and novelist in my spare time. Because I was ten, all of these things were not only possible, but predestined. Fast-forward seven years to the summer after I graduated high school and I found myself enrolled at Purdue with the sciences on my mind.
The day I received my housing assignment for Earhart, I changed my mind. I no longer wanted to go to Purdue and I had idea what I wanted to do with my life. I stood in Dad's study, next to my senior picture in which I wore a Purdue sweatshirt, and told him I was going to Indiana University instead. He asked why. I had no answer.
I still have no answer. I don't know why suddenly I was so sure I needed to change direction, but I remember being very, very sure. So sure at a time in life when almost everything seemed anything but. I spent the next five years taking courses in nearly everything, hoping something would stick. Nothing really did. Finally tired of school, I asked my advisor what degree would be the fastest to finish. History was the winner. I didn't mind. I really liked history classes and enjoyed the research writing typically accompanied. A year later I had my degree.
I was broke. My dad suddenly died. I left the restaurant in which I'd worked all through college. I took the first job that offered me a position. I was tired of bartending and wanted to move on with life. I needed something different. During the three years in that position, I met the best friend I've ever had. Ten years later, in a crazy turn of events, he became Husband. Before that happened, I left that first job out of college, packed my car with as much as I could, and with beloved Old Dog as copilot, moved to Florida to chase a dream. I took an internship with the Daytona Cubs. It did not turn out to be the career move I had hoped. Before the year was over, I was back home searching for the next step. A few months later, I landed a great gig for a great company and began the journey that was the last nine years of my professional life.
Now, again, here I am chasing a dream. A very expensive dream. In looking for side job opportunities, what have I found? Opportunities to work with horses. Opportunities to work with marine life. Any one of these opportunities will also allow me to keep writing. Seems like my life is coming full circle.
We've all had inner thoughts about things we wish we'd done different. What if I'd gone to Purdue? What if I'd stayed in that first job? What if I'd stuck it out in the baseball thing? What would I change? Nothing. I'd change not one choice, "fix" not one "mistake", miss not one opportunity to follow my gut. Because it all led me here. It's not likely I'm going to be a marine biologist, an exceptional equestrian, or an award-winning author. But one thing is likely - I'm going to be doing things I love, with a person I love, in a place I love. I'd call that living the dream every day of the week and twice on Sunday.